This week, we're taking a break from debating content and design to talk about something we think everyone can relate to - whether you own your own business, or you're a marketer just getting started: 

The challenges of networking.

For so many, networking events (trade shows, conferences, happy hours, industry meetups) are considered a necessary evil. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if you're getting out there to mingle with prospects or to connect with other professionals in your field, knowing how to work a room effectively can make or break you in those situations.

So, inspired by a recent talk I attended, I decided to go digging for some of my favorite tips and tricks to help others feel more confident in networking situations. And, of course, Shelby brought in her own unique perspective, as well as a few things I hadn't even thought of...

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Let's begin with an old tool to explain difficult ideas: a car analogy.

When you buy a new car, you also have to think about the car insurance you're going to buy along with it. Insurance coverage varies—there are a number of different types you can purchase, from plans that cover the costs of repair after an accident to comprehensive plans that also cover losses such as weather damage or theft. In addition, purchasing insurance doesn't give you a license to drive as recklessly as you want just because you know that your insurance company will cover the costs if you get into an accident.

Similarly, just as car insurance isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, cyber insurance is not the panacea to all of a company's IT problems.

Unfortunately, developing effective cyber security marketing strategies around cyber insurance is challenging because your audience generally doesn't completely understand what it is that they're purchasing. Many companies think they can just get cyber insurance, and it will cover all of the damages if their IT systems are attacked or breached.

This attitude, however, represents an extremely naive view of what cyber insurance is and the threats that companies face from holes and vulnerabilities in their cyber security practices. In order to successfully market cyber security products or services to companies without a deep base of IT experts, you need to emphasize the following three points.

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Individual page conversion rate optimization is all about improving the percentage of users who meet a specific goal on a specific page of your website. One of the hardest parts of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is deciding what to change and test on a page. There are literally a million different choices and possibilities for what you could choose to adjust. And there is no point in randomly changing things just to change them.

Change for the sake of change is pointless and wastes time. So, in your CRO journey, there must be a reason behind each action you take, as well as a measurable outcome you are looking to achieve.

Step one is to make sure you truly understand and define the goal of the page you are working to optimize. If you don't know what you want the page to ultimately do, how are you ever going to try and improve the pages ability to do that thing?

So, how do you go about making the decisions on what to optimize or what tests to run?

You need a framework behind your decision making process. Each and every test you run should be based on attempt to answer one of the following questions.

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When preparing for a trade show, promotional products are often at the top of the list for things to order. From pens and brochures to displays and banners, you might think you have it all covered when stocking up for your event.

But did you know that there are even more opportunities to use promotional products to maximize your ROI on your trade show exhibit? 

Here at Quintain, we like to get creative and take advantage of every opportunity to make an impression on a lead from a trade show. It's not just about ordering some stuff with your logo on it; it's about being smart and strategic about what promotional items you choose and when you use them. 

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The Guide to Creating Mind Blowing Content

Let's face it, there is a lot of content out there. How do you get yours to stand out? Simple, make it mind blowing.

42 pages full of ideas for creating awesome content that converts visitors into leads and leads into customers!

Using a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a marketing agency is common practice within larger companies. Actually, RFPs are pretty common for large procurements across a range of industries and when used properly, they can result in cost savings, eliminate bias in the procurement process, and deliver greater overall value to the organization than a sole source procurement. 

I'm a big believer in the benefits of a well-designed competitive bidding process. In fact, prior to forming Quintain, I was an international development consultant and specialized in advising developing country governments on structuring competitive bidding processes (and writing RFPs!) for outsourced management of water and wastewater utilities.

What does that have to do with marketing? A lot, actually, but that might be a story for another time...

In the last year, we've been receiving more RFPs for both web design projects and marketing retainers and I have to admit, I think they are a bad idea. I know, I know...I'm biased given my position as a marketing agency owner. But I really do have good reasons for saying RFPs are a waste of time when it comes to procuring the services of a marketing agency.

Why shouldn't you use an RFP to hire a marketing agency? Watch the video (just over six minutes long - but totally worth the time!) to find out...

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Your strategy for a trade show or event should never be created in a vacuum. It should always be a part of your larger marketing strategy and feed directly into your business goals. So, when planning for a trade show, make sure you're incorporating all of the channels which are a part of your normal strategy.

I've already talked about about incorporating inbound marketing and video into trade shows, so now let's talk about how you can make the most of social media at a show.

Just like any marketing strategy, your plan should be directly related to your goals. When deciding how to properly use social media to meet those goals, think about your funnel. Specifically you need a plan in place for reaching prospects at each stage: awareness, consideration, decision and even for current customers.

Now all you have to do is match your approach to your prospect's stage!

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Promotional products rock. They not only attract new clients, but they keep your current ones happy and increase brand recognition simultaneously, taking your business to a whole new level. Like I said, awesome.

Some people may think that promotional products cost a lot of money, but it’s totally an investment worth making. Year after year, they have been proven a fun, cost-effective way to market your company without (a) breaking the bank, and (b) exerting too much brainpower and time.

What I want to convey today is the importance of not just picking a product and giving it away. It’s about a bigger picture: developing a comprehensive promotional strategy in mind designed to produce results you can measure.

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